Royals Host Adirondack in Finale Saturday: Need Win + Help to Stay Alive in Playoff Hunt
Reading, PA - The Reading Royals (33-28-4-6, 76 pts., 5th North), proud ECHL affiliate of the Philadelphia Flyers and Lehigh Valley Phantoms, require a win and help on the final day of Reading's regular season to stay alive in the North Division playoff race as the Royals host the Adirondack Thunder (37-25-5-3, 82 pts., 2nd North) on FANdemonium Saturday at 7:00 p.m. at Santander Arena. In addition to a Royals victory Saturday, Brampton (77 points) needs to lose in regulation in its final two games against Toledo. The Beast are at Toledo Saturday and host the Walleye Sunday.
Reading is one point back of Brampton for the fourth and final playoff spot in the North Division.
In order to qualify, Reading must win Saturday, Brampton needs to lose both of its remaining games in regulation and Maine must finish with fewer points than Reading. Maine and Brampton each own the first tiebreaker (regulation plus overtime wins over the Royals). The Mariners won Friday to stay alive in the playoff race. Brampton dropped a shootout, 2-1, to Cincinnati.
The Royals have tied a season-long seven-game point sreak (6-0-0-1) and Reading has won five in a row.
The Royals will hand out prizes at every whistle, one fan will go home with a 2017 Toyota Camry (AutoRide of Reading) and season ticket holders have an opportunity to win a game-worn Royals jersey that will be presented to them after the game with the "jerseys off our back promotion." Additionally, the Ice Angels (Baja Beach Berks) will perform at the contest. It is the first time the Royals play Adirondack in the 72nd game of a season.
Last Time Out
Friday at Adirondack, Jamie Phillips made his 10th straight start and blocked 25 shots to help Reading defeat Adirondack, 4-1. Tyler Brown, Nick Luukko, Jacob Graves and Chris McCarthy scored. Kevin Goumas finished with two assists. The Royals out shot the Thunder, 12-4, in the first and scored the opening two goals. Graves' goal provided Reading the lead for good. Next, McCarthy scored his 20th of the season, the second straight campaign he's hit 20 in a season. After Matias Cleland pulled Adirondack within one in the second, Brown scored to restore the lead to two, 3-1. Luukko scored in the third period to tie the Royals all-time defenseman points record (86), matching Simon Tremblay.
The Royals have split the last eight meetings with the Thunder (4-4-0-0) and are 4-6-0-1 against Adirondack in the season series.
Broadcast Coverage: Deibler Dental In-Arena Broadcast (99.3 FM) | Mixlr.com/ReadingRoyals
North Division Standings | y = clinched division | x = clinched playoff spot
y - Newfoundland - 93 points (2 games remaining)
x - Adirondack - 82 points (2 games remaining)
x - Manchester - 80 points (1 game remaining)
Brampton - 77 points (2 games remaining)
Reading - 76 points (1 game remaining)
Maine - 75 points (2 games remaining)
Worcester - 71 points (2 games remaining)
Period breakdown vs. Adirondack
Reading has scored 11 goals against the Thunder in the first period of the series and allowed six, continuing the trend of strong first frames under Head Coach Kirk MacDonald.
The first period is Reading's best this season (+17 goal differential). The Royals scored twice in the first period Adirondack to take a 2-0 lead into first intermission.
Over the last four games, Reading has scored six goals in the opening frame and allowed one. However, the Royals have allowed 12 of the last 13 third-period goals in head-to-head games against the Thunder, allowing Adirondack to overcome three deficits in their four-game series winning streak. Prior to Adirondack's strikes, the teams had each scored five third-frame goals.
Over the last five games, Reading has outscored foes by four in the third period.
All-time vs. Adirondack
Reading has points in 13 of 25 games against Adirondack since Kirk MacDonald became Head Coach (11 wins). In the all-time series, Adirondack has 25 wins and Reading has 23. The series has changed "all-time control" a three times this season.
To start the season, Reading had won 19 of 37 games contested between the clubs. Three straight Thunder wins to open the season flipped control Adirondack's way, 21-19. Next, Reading won three consecutive to give them back the advantage (22-21).
Season finales in Royals history
Reading is 2-0-0-0 under Kirk MacDonald in the final game of regular seasons, defeating Norfolk in each. Saturday marks the first time Reading completes a season against Adirondack.
Despite qualifying for the playoffs 13 times in their first 17 seasons, the Royals have had a two-faced history in game 72. The Royals only won one of their first eight (2003-04), but have since gone 6-2-0-1 in season finales.
Wheeling (2x), Norfolk (2x), Trenton (4x) are the only squads to play the Royals more than once in the last game. The Royals faced traditional rival Elmira once in game 72 in the 2012-13 championship season (shootout loss).
2011-12 is the most-notable last game; the Royals staved off Trenton, 6-4, and received a game-winning goal from Denny Urban to qualify for the Kelly Cup Playoffs on the season's final day. Reading received help as well; Cincinnati was already eliminated from the playoffs after the Royals won, but the Cyclones came back from a 2-0 deficit against the now-defunct Chicago Express to boot them from the postseason. Chicago folded after that season ended.
First goal vs. Adirondack
Reading has notched the first goal in eight of the first 11 season-series games. The Royals are 3-5-0-0 when scoring the first goal against Adirondack and has points in two of four games (1-2-0-1) when the Thunder notch the opening tally.
The Royals came from behind when giving up the first goal Nov. 24 to earn a 2-1 win with Nick Niedert in cage (38 saves, 1 GA).
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